Responding vs Reacting

How do you feel when you react to something? Do any of these words sound familiar?  Tense, tight muscles, irritated, helpless, powerless, angry, annoyed, overwhelmed, hateful, in fight-or-flight…?

What about when you respond to something? Peaceful, thoughtful, connected, relieved, sitting up tall, relaxed, thinking about possibilities, un-hurried…?

That’s not to say that going with a gut feeling can’t be powerful, and just the right thing to do in certain cases (read, for example, Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink). There is a time to trust your instincts. And sometimes those instant reactions are correct-grabbing the child before he runs out into the street, for instance.

However, at many other times, that moment–the one between when the reaction floods our body and the actual measured response that we decide upon–is the moment that keeps us from folly and regret.

As Stephen Covey says in his 7 Habits book, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space.” Why not make that space work powerfully on your side?

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